Mon, Sep 15, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Our biggest threat is our own Mr Teflon

By Lee Wen-chung 李文忠

The Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s basic idea for cross-strait interaction is the so-called “1992 consensus” and getting each side of the Taiwan Strait to abstain from denying the existence of the other. There was some understanding for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) not agreeing to these premises and goals, but anyone who could or would be willing to understand the Ma administration’s actions is totally confused.

The administration considers it reasonable to remain silent or protest in a low-key manner when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is referred to as “Mr” by China or when Beijing calls the Republic of China (ROC) the “Taiwan Area,” but harshly refutes any statements that Taiwan is a province or a part of China. But in what way is it respectful to the presidency and the ROC when Ma says that he is comfortable being referred to as “Mr Ma” and when he refers to Taiwan as an “area?”

Apart from terrifying the DPP, Ma has probably made the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) happy beyond its wildest dreams. How could this be construed as mutual non-denial? It is outright self-denial!

Ma’s handling of other matters has also left the public stunned and speechless. His administration was “pragmatic” to the point of humiliating Taiwan in seeking admission to the UN’s specialized organizations. When Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang Guangya (王光亞) rejected Taiwan’s entrance, Taipei should have issued a strong protest. The Presidential Office spokesperson, however, spoke up for China as if he was the spokesperson for Beijing’s UN delegation.

Then there was Ma’s backtracking on national defense. Taiwan has cruise missiles with a reach of 500km to 600km, capable of attacking military facilities along the Fujian coast. We were about to make a breakthrough in the development of the Hsiung Feng 2E cruise missile, which would have reached of 800km to 1,000km, and would allow Taiwan to hit second-line military facilities such as airports.

A reasonable military strategy would dictate that development of these missiles be completed. If substantial military concessions are made between China and Taiwan, we could consider maintaining existing capability but forego mass production and deployment. However, considering China’s rapid increases in national defense spending, research and development and expanding deployments, the Ma administration had no reason to stop the Hsiung Feng 2E program. The Chinese probably didn’t believe their ears. Unfortunately for Taiwan, it was all too true.

When the DPP was in power, the national strategy was to maintain a clear definition of Taiwanese sovereignty and to state that there was one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait. This was in line with mainstream public opinion. However, this strategy caused a freeze in cross-strait relations and hurt relations between the pan-green and pan-blue camps as well as between China, the US and Taiwan.

The Ma administration has a different strategy and maybe they cannot be blamed for making the change given eight years of chilly relations. However, the government has gone directly against Taiwan’s sovereign interests and mainstream public opinion.

Simply put, the former Chen administration was characterized by a clear stance, but its overly hasty policies and rash actions hurt Taiwan’s interests and the feelings of the public.

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